Bootle – Sefton Council to spend another £3.15m on Strand Shopping Center

Rear view of Bootle New Strand shopping centre

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

So on top of an alleged £32.5m purchase price, financed via a loan, Sefton Council is now going to spend another £3.15m on this shopping center. And we all thought Sefton Council was short of a few bob! Not short of money for pet Bootle projects it seems.

Just when are communities like Formby, Maghull etc. going to see this level of investment in their retail facilities from Sefton Council? Maghull Square for example is down at heal and never seems to get the upgrade that it needs to smarten up its tired 1960’s exterior.

I ask these questions yet again. Why buy a Bootle shopping center but not shopping centers elsewhere in the Borough of Sefton? Why is Bootle’s shopping center a bigger priority than those elsewhere? You could also ask why a cash strapped Council thinks investing public money in shopping centers is such a high priority in any circumstances?

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

City Regions and their Metro Mayors – Middle aged white men! Big diversity issues here but the concept of City Regions is flawed too!&utm_content=22855&gator_td=iT217sLHzHCoAXs18511elTuBZj1y%2bUBNsQ2o7DKf48Ic4IydWBQNaS7%2fFOG2l2wyKQc4JXZU1IwHtb%2bpWgqMLq5FmgGg%2b0arS69lo9I6mhxB3EwtEt8pRb3rC8KyWS2Hs0%2bO4QDHRDiyF8uROrzpNskgsTlxZ1gq3d5tjGKKoeO55z6Y6P5Szll43dbyFFILza%2fFcHZo3LJ9DDTp8PbDQ%3d%3d

The article is on the web site of Logistic and Transport Focus and is available via the link above

So many white middle aged men, yet most of them will be representing very ethnically diverse regions of England – regions where around 50% of the population will also be women I might add. A diversity disaster is my first thought.

I have always opposed the concept of City Regions and elected Mayors for a number of reasons. I don’t support the idea of concentrating power in the hands of one person, whomever that person may be, as it is a poor form of representation which does not deliver good democracy. Secondly, the devolved powers (certainly as far as the Liverpool City Region/Merseyside are concerned) are 2nd or even 3rd rate. But probably more than anything else I see power and resources being pulled into the heart of a City Region often at the expense of its surrounding towns and communities.

I can’t comment of the other City Regions as I’m not well enough informed but looking at my own Liverpool City Region I see two obvious examples of a pull to the centre and a disregard of an important issue to an outlying town.

The pull to the centre is the removal of around 3,000 civil servants from a deprived area into Liverpool City Centre. The losing community here is Bootle where a mini-Whitehall had been established over many years starting in the 1960’s. Yes some civil servants will be left in Bootle but why on earth take 3,000 of them out to place them in a crowded city centre where property is more expensive and the parking charges faced by poorly paid civil servants are high. Surely a lose lose situation especially when you take away the spending power of 3,000 workers from the Bootle retail economy. What did the Liverpool City Regional do about this? Well whatever it was it was ineffective because decisions made in the real Whitehall could not be overturned? Or was it that despite the huffing the puffing by the powers that be locally it actually suited some to concentrate jobs in Liverpool City Centre?

My second example is of an outlying Liverpool City Region Town effectively being left all but unsupported, by any meaningful regional intervention, over an important transport link. The link is the railway line and service from Southport to Wigan, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport which is about to suffer from a poorer service due to decisions being made by Network Rail, Northern Rail and the railway industry generally. The problem has been known about for a long time so it has not been a quick decision that has been difficult to address in a short timescale. Yet the main campaigners against the move to downgrade Southport’s rail service to Manchester have been two voluntary organisations – OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Assn) and Southport Rail Transport Forum. Where exactly has the Liverpool City Region and its Transport Committee Merseytravel been during this process and what have they done to defend the loss of an important rail link to Manchester Airport and a much reduced service to Manchester Piccadilly? But looking back further to when the Liverpool City Region produced its first Long Term Rail Strategy the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line did not even get a mention! That had to challenged and it was (successfully to some degree) but the 2nd iteration of this plan, published only last October, clearly makes the line little more than less than important to the City Region.

So my view remains that the concept of City Regions and City Region Mayors is badly flawed and that it can work to the disadvantage of towns surrounding a big city area. That neglect can manifest itself by things being drawn towards the centre or by issues in outlying towns being all but ignored. Look at it like this City Regions, as they are presently set up, are a bit like the overheated economy of the South East – a magnet for money to the City with crumbs from the city’s table finding its way to the outlying areas. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that as a rule of thumb any investment in an outlying City Region area will only happen if it is also to the advantage of the main hub.

Oh and just in case you’ve forgotten the other big issue – the City Region Mayors are all middle aged white men, just think on that.

Note – Both of the examples I have focused on above are within Sefton Borough

Bootle – Landmark Gas Works set for demolition

Bootle Townscape

The Liverpool Echo has news of the proposed demolition of the former gas works off Bootle’s Marsh Lane on its web site – see link above.

I worked overlooking this gas works for many years and took the photo above from my high vantage point workplace (The Triad) a few years back.

It looks like the demolition process is going to be troublesome and lengthy for the residents who live in the surrounding streets.

It’s rather sad to see such a landmark in Bootle being torn down. It was once connected to the railway network and the remains of bridge abutments can still be seen on Hawthorne Road.

Previous postings of mine mentioned this site, here’s a link back to them:-

Click on the heading photo to enlarge it.

Bootle – A branch of UK Men’s Shed Association in The Strand Shopping Centre

Well this caught my eye in Bootle Strand Shopping Centre the other day, not least because I’m a man and I have a couple of sheds. So what’s this organisation all about? An internet search revealed this:-

Project Introduction

Bootle tool shed was set up to meet the needs of the ever growing group of 50+ men who live/work/visit in the Bootle area, (although our target group is older men we welcome any age or gender to get involved). There have been a number of studies done in recent years on the effects of social isolation on this group in particular, and these studies show the need for social groups to be set up around a common interest and that’s what we aim to do here, men generally find it more difficult to re-engage with those around them when they retire/are made redundant or if a marriage/relationship breaks down, or if they even become widowed.

We want to provide a place that offers friendly comfortable surroundings where people can come and get involved in number of activities including woodwork, DIY, furniture repair, painting, model making, or whatever the group or individual wants to do, it’s more about the inclusion than the activity, it’s this that improves the health and well being of our members.

At Bootle tool shed we want to try to encourage a mix of generations as studies have shown that the skill sharing of these mixed age groups is a great benefit to all, but this will be done on a sessional basis so those that want to get involved can and those that don’t have warning to steer clear, we are always open to suggestions for new activities and if we have the space and budget we will endeavor to see that it happens so please don’t be shy to suggest anything after all this is your space.

We run on a committee model like most other members of UK Men’s sheds association so if you feel like putting yourself forward for a role on our committee feel free to get in touch, we like to get involved with other community groups whether this is us building a bench for a seating area at the local community centre, or if you are a local group and you want us to build you some garden planters and the likes again just ask.

So now you know. Quite an eye opener.

Bootle in the Blitz

Sheila and I attended another packed out talk at Crosby Library last Wednesday, this time all about the Second World War Blitz of Bootle and its docks.

It was a compelling talk with a lot of information to take in despite the talk leader saying it was only a broad brush overview of the bombing of Bootle.

There were people in the audience who had lived through the Blitz and/or had lost relatives in it.

One matter covered was the bombing of Bedford Road School and the fact that the clock in the school stopped at the time the bombs landed on it. That clock is on display in the foyer of Bootle Town Hall and I recall seeing it there many times during my time as a Sefton Councillor – A sobering clock to stand and look at when you understand its history. Surprisingly, when the talk leader asked if anyone had seen the clock in the Town Hall I got the impression that I may have been only one of very few present who had. Here’s a link to one of my previous postings that covers the clock:-

I have blogged previously about the effect of the Blitz on Bootle and here’s a link back to another posting and the memorial on Ash Street:-

Thank you and well done to the staff of Crosby Library for this well put together talk about the dark days of the Second World War in Bootle.

Note:- During the talk a chap got up and if I understood him correctly he was saying that ‘it was all lies’ or words to that effect. With that he walked out and I wondered, probably together with the rest of the audience, what that was all about?

Bootle – Johnsons the Cleaners

Click on the photo to enlarge it

This huge iconic Litherland building has been closed and boarded up now for many years. It was photographed from a high vantage point in Bootle in July of this year.

A quick internet search revealed that it is now in fact 10 years since the company moved out of Bootle in favour of new premises in Prescot. This interesting link by Sue Adair on Geograph is worth a quick read:-

The photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-